BY SHARON SIBINDI DIAMOND Berry Enterprises recently held this year’s The Winter Affair which aims to connect, create a triangular relationship of the artists, the business community, end consumers of art and the idea is to introduce the arts industry as a hanging fruit of investment to the corporate world.
This year’s sixth instalment comes after a two year sabbatical break due to a spike of the novel coronavirus in 2020 which wreaked havoc across the globe and arts industry being among the industries affected by Covid-19.
In an interview with Diamond Berry Enterprises managing director, Nhlanhla Dabengwa said:
“The Winter Affair is driving and pushing creative entrepreneurship, adding the business element into the creative sector to try boost economic involvement and empowerment for global competitiveness.
“The Winter Affair is a month long hybrid of events divided into two main elements the creative exhibition and the business clinics for creative entrepreneurs. What inspired this Affair is the need to reform the entrepreneurial culture in the creative sector.
“The arts sector is widely resilient and with serious potential to be an industry that supports families, communities but to achieve that it has to be viewed as an entrepreneurial endeavour which needs special attention into key business elements.”
Dabengwa said working in the SME business development sector, they realised the gap faced by fellow artists is no different from those of SMEs which is mainly access to markets, finance and information and that requires a business conversation anchored on capacity building for the artists.
“The aim of the Affair is to connect create a triangular relationship of the artists, the business community and end consumers of art. The idea is to introduce the arts industry as a low hanging fruit of investment to the corporate world and a medium of culture preservation and promotion by the public (consumers).
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“The days are and main events are as follows.
“Day one is the exhibition opening evening. Launching the exhibition of art works mostly visual. Phase two is a week-long business clinic, different topics on different days.
“Last day a month after is the closing ceremony which is mostly about the spoken word form of art, interpreting the visual aspect of displays. This is poetry and accapella versions and we have keynote speeches from prominent figures and business leaders on key issues of entrepreneurship,” he added.
Dabengwa said the benefit is quite apparent in the sense that in a globalising world now more than ever the culture of entrepreneurship must be introduced, sharpened and reformed accordingly for a competitive industry which they feel is currently short-changed.
“The sixth instalment was a very successful and rewarding journey, firstly because it’s the first time post Covid-19 restrictions. So coming out of such a trying and eye opening time which introduced us to uncertainties forced us to restrategise and repackage the Winter Affair to fit the new normal we are in.
“Hence the introduction of business clinics to equip the entrepreneurs with new mind-sets fit the time we are in. The Winter Affair is a huge job and a special thank you to The Natural Museum of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo for hosting and displaying the exhibition from the different creatives, namely Keith Zenda from Gweru, Torah Nkomo, Chenge Kamwendo from Masvingo, local artists including veteran artists like Danisa Ncube.
“The institutional support of the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation also the Oasis in Belmont in Bulawayo for hosting the closing ceremony, special mention to Mpi Ndebele from the Oasis, Clifford Zulu from Centre for Contemporary Art Bulawayo (CCAB) and Morris Mpala,” he added.
Meanwhile, Zulu said the 2022 edition of the Winter Affair presented a platform to enable and engage artists to begin shifting perspectives and understand the business aspect of their trade.
“Nhlanhla Dabengwa a visionary, passionate about all things African Founder of Diamond Berry Enterprises (PVT) Ltd. A multi-divisional business development company that provides end-to-end business solutions is the brains behind the Winter Affair.
“He has been running the Winter Affair from 2017 and this years’ exhibition was held at the Natural Museum of and Monuments of Zimbabwe Bulawayo emerging contemporary visual artists participated.
“As we continue to explore exhibition spaces in Bulawayo, the 2022 exhibition was eclectic and versatile; as we slowly come out of the Covid-19 restrictions the 2022 summer exhibition by the Centre for Contemporary Art Bulawayo will be one show to see these more of these emerging artists.
“Zimbabwean artists are talented and resilient but that only, cannot bring prosperity. The Winter Affair is driving Creative Entrepreneurship adding the business element into the practice. For many years artists have been struggling to “crossover” the talent and aesthetics as a marketing tool, and making real money from their enterprise,” he said.
He said the Zimbabwean economy has not been the best place for most artists to live off their work, and such platforms are designed to stimulate business skills that help artists to navigate the ever changing business environment and dynamics.
“Keynote speakers Mpi Ndebele and Mantante Mlotshwa emphasised the need for a business model that work is for the creative entrepreneur and the aspect of building brands and identity into the whole practice.
“Artists must not be afraid to collaborate and create partnerships, the world is changing and so are business dynamics to avoid being led behind….. The poetic brush performance by Sox the Poet and Torah Nkomo was exquisite and the finished painting was auctioned onsite.
“The Oasis is a co-working space and arts hub in Bulawayo. It is a place of convergence for Bulawayo’s creators hungry to create solutions to the city’s challenges through entrepreneurship and the arts the OASIS is another creative space that artists and audiences can engage,” he added.